Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The number of genetically modified animals used in UK labs continues to rise.

Yikes! Just look at this term: modified animal. Strange stuff.

I'm trying to understand how an artificially-jacked up animal would represent any sort of human.

Of course, what is occurring in the UK is undoubtedly happening in the US as well. This is a general trend.

In addition, and in relation to what I just mentioned about how it doesn't make sense that an artificially jacked up animal would represent any sort of human, the bbc published this story, so both sides are mentioned. Yet, what sticks out to me is what anti-animal use educators have always said: animal-based tests, or, animal testing has a very high tendency to be flawed. Why: read this snippet:

The report's author Dr Jarrod Bailey, a medical scientist at Newcastle
University, carried out an analysis of scientific papers and found that,
in some 70% of cases where a GM animal is created in the hope of
replicating human symptoms, the animal does not perform as expected.

"Animals often don't mirror the human situation in terms of symptoms or
pathology," Dr Bailey told the BBC News website.

Dr Bailey pointed out that viable alternatives existed, such as
experimenting on human tissue grown in the lab and the use of DNA-based
methods such as microarrays to look at gene expression.

Here's the story:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4509862.stm


GM animal tests continue to rise
By Paul Rincon
BBC News science reporter


Harassment and violence could make it necessary to import animals from
countries where regulations are not so tight
Professor Colin Blakemore, MRC

The rise in use of genetically modified animals in UK labs shows no signs
of abating, government figures have shown.
Modified animals made up 32% of all procedures in 2004, compared with 27%
the previous year.

Total experiments showed a marginal increase, of 2.3% to just over 2.85
million - but this is still about half the level it was 30 years ago.

The number of animals used in research was 2.78 million, a rise of 2.1% on
2003 figures.

Home Office minister Andy Burnham said that animal research had led to
advances in the treatment of many conditions, such as Parkinson's disease,
asthma, kidney disease, schizophrenia and peptic ulcers.

"Where there is no alternative available, we will continue to ensure that
the balance between animal welfare and scientific advancement is
maintained," he commented.

Alternative testing

Normal animals were used in 1,673,000 procedures, a fall of 76,000 (4%)
from 2003. Genetically modified animals were used in 914,000 procedures, a
rise of 150,000 (19%) from 2003. The regulated use of GM animals has more
than quadrupled since 1995.

Colin Blakemore, chief executive of the Medical Research Council (MRC),
said the increased use of modified animals - predominantly rodents - was a
result of new techniques that were giving important insights into human
disease.

By adding or knocking out genes in mice, scientists believe they can gain
an insight into the molecular flaws in humans that lead to illness.

The British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (Buav) criticised the
government for failing to provide adequate funding into alternatives.

Alistair Currie, campaigns director for Buav, told the BBC News website
that although the government had given some funding to alternatives for
animal research, it "doesn't really have a strategy...on what we do to get
the numbers down."

Adolfo Sansolini, the group's chief executive, added: "These figures,
although alarming, still do not include the 'missing millions' of animals
bred for vivisection, but killed as surplus to requirements."

Tight regulations

Campaign group Animal Aid has published its own report to coincide with
the release of the statistics that brands the use of GM animals a
"scientific dead end".

The report's author Dr Jarrod Bailey, a medical scientist at Newcastle
University, carried out an analysis of scientific papers and found that,
in some 70% of cases where a GM animal is created in the hope of
replicating human symptoms, the animal does not perform as expected.

"Animals often don't mirror the human situation in terms of symptoms or
pathology," Dr Bailey told the BBC News website.

Dr Bailey pointed out that viable alternatives existed, such as
experimenting on human tissue grown in the lab and the use of DNA-based
methods such as microarrays to look at gene expression.

Professor Chris Higgins, director of the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre,
defended the use of GM animals, saying that their use would lead to more
precise approaches to developing treatments.

"We cannot understand how the infective agent causing BSE spreads from the
gut when ingested as food, to the brain where it causes vCJD, without
studying whole animals. Genetically-modified mice provide the best model
for this," he explained.

Professor Blakemore expressed concern that campaigns of harrassment and
violence by animal rights extremists could harm the welfare of animals
bred for research.

"Nearly all of the animals used in medical research come from designated
sources in the UK, where animal welfare legislation is very strict," he
explained.

"The closure of breeding farms in the UK as a result of harassment and
violence could make it necessary to import animals from countries where
regulations are not so tight."

Earlier this year, a farm that has been breeding guinea pigs for medical
research for more than 30 years was forced to stop after a campaign of
intimidation by animal rights activists.

The number of procedures using non-human primates in 2004 was 4,208, down
by 12% on the previous year.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/science/nature/4509862.stm

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